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Undergraduate Research

Using Your Money

Your Mini-Grant Money

Your project period is 12 months. It ends on the project end date, when you graduate or when you leave USC, whichever is first. You cannot pay for items purchased or work that took place before the grant start date.

Refer to the budget section of the "Applying" portion of the Mini-Grant website.

Note: funds may only be used for the student awardee(s) and the project. Funds may not be transferred to a different student nor used for mentors or graduate student compensation (including salary, benefits and travel).

The Controller’s Office will set up individual "N" accounts for each Mini-Grant project in consultation with the budget managers at the level of College/School or Campus (if outside of Columbia). This will occur ~three to four weeks after project selections are announced. The start date is Jan. 1 for spring projects and May 1 for summer/fall projects.

  • Your mentor's department business manager is usually the one who manages mini-grant awards. Ask your mentor.
  • Your mentor’s department business manager may need to contact the college, school or campus business manager for account information. The award will be in an "N" fund.
  • The business manager may designate a contact for processing of your expenditures (such as travel approval, reimbursement for supplies and purchasing).
  • Your mentor will need to contact the business manager to handle any purchases or initiate travel approval paperwork.

The business manager of your mentor’s department or campus designee will manage your account, in coordination with your mentor. 

If the business manager does not have your account number, they may need to contact the business manager at the College/School or Campus level (if outside of Columbia).

Awards are automatically transferred by the Controller's Office to your mentor’s department into internal fund "N" accounts for each Mini-Grant PROJECT as directed by the business manager at the level of College/School or Campus (if outside of Columbia).

REMEMBER: Your mentor must authorize all expenditures!

It is not unusual for your budget needs to change — something might cost more or less, supply needs change, conference plans get altered, etc. — that’s OK! Once your account is set up, all changes are between you and your mentor. You do not need to contact the OUR unless you have questions on how money can be spent. Your business manager may require the change in writing with your mentor’s signature or email approval; this will vary by departments.

REMINDER: All Magellan awards must comply with university policy and be in compliance with the allowable/unallowable guidelines in the guidebook.

This is not a bank account where you can withdraw money when you need it. Pre-approval is required for everything and can take multiple weeks, so plan ahead!

Your mentor must authorize all expenditures. The business manager for your mentor's department will be your point of contact for handling purchases, initiating travel paperwork and checking on your account balance.

This is for any type of travel: to conduct research or to present your research, etc.

  • Who helps me? Most likely your department administrator or business manager, but your mentor may have experience with this, too 
  • BEFORE you go to the department administrator:
    • Get estimates of cost for plane or mileage, lodging, local transportation (taxis/shuttles), registration (if applicable), etc.
    • Know the destination and dates, and explain the purpose of travel.
  • You must have your expenses approved BEFORE each and every trip you take.
    • This must be done at least one week before you go. More time is better!
    • NOTE: this is not the same as the paperwork filed with the Study Abroad Office. Talk with your business manager!
  • You must save ALL receipts while you are traveling.
  • Within 10 days of your return, you will need to initiate the reimbursement process. This includes providing receipts, mileage, etc. Talk about this with the person in the department who is helping you BEFORE you leave.
  • NOTE: some prepaid items (like flights) can be reimbursed right away, but this is up to your department. Ask whomever is assisting you.
  • Items purchased BEFORE the start of the grant period cannot be reimbursed.
  • You MUST have faculty permission before you buy something.
  • The following must be discussed with your mentor or the business manager BEFORE purchasing. There are generally three ways that items can be purchased:
    1. on a university purchasing card (credit card) 
    2. directly from the mini-grant account through the university purchasing process
    3. purchasing item(s) yourself (or mentor) and getting reimbursed through PeopleSoft.
  • SAVE receipts!!
  • All materials/supplies that are not expended during the project (including cameras, recorders, etc.) are USC property and must be given back to your department, mentor, or OUR.

Award Requirement Reminder — Don't forget:


Haven't spent all the money?

If you are graduating ...
Funding may continue for one semester after graduation. Your mentor must contact us to confirm the grant end date. You will still need to complete your report and presentation at the end of the grant period. 

If you're still an undergraduate...
Your mentor or business manager can request an extension by sending an email to with the following:

  • name of the Magellan Mini-Grant recipient
  • reason for needing an extension
  • confirmation of mentor's willingness to continue supervising student and project
  • new end date desired (must be a specific date)

If the project is finished OR the awarded student is no longer working on the project...

  • funds may not be transferred to a different student
  • account balances of $100 or more must be returned to the Office of Undergraduate Research - contact
  • account balances below $100 can be transferred to the mentor’s research incentive fund or department account


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.